University of Tennessee Advises Using ‘ze’ and ‘zir’ Instead of ‘he’ and ‘she.’

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( — August 31, 2015) — Hoping they will become standard, some groups and individuals have invented, borrowed and used non-standard pronouns.

According to The University of Tennessee’s Pride Center students should should be encouraged to use a non-standard gender-neutral pronouns such as ze, hir, hirs, and xe, xem, xyr, instead of standard pronouns such as she, her, hers and he, him and his.

“This ensures you are not singling out transgender or non-binary students. The name a student uses may not be the one on the official roster, and the roster name may not be the same gender as the one the student now uses,” Pride Center Director Donna Braquet said.

“We should not assume someone’s gender by their appearance, or by what is listed on a roster or in student information system,” she said.

Braquet admits that the new pronouns could sound funny at the start, “but only because they are new.”

“The she and he pronouns would sound strange too if we had been taught ze when growing up,” she said.

The post on the University of Tennessee webpage offers merely a suggestion, and is not a mandatory proposal, UT’s  Media and Internal Relations Director Karen Ann Simsen told WATE TV.

“The information provided in the newsletter was offered as a resource for our campus community on inclusive practices,” she said.

According to Simsen, the suggestion wasn’t only made to students, but professors as well, but how would one know what pronoun to use?

According to Braquet, if there is a doubt one can always ask, adding that the question is perfectly polite.

Various proposals for changes of pronouns in English language have been around since at least the 19th century, according to Wikipedia. For example, abbreviated pronouns have been proposed: ‘e (for he or she) or ‘s (for his/hers); h’ (for him/her in object case); “zhe” (also “ze”), “zher(s)” (also “zer” or “zir”), “shi”/”hir”, and “zhim” (also “mer”) for “he or she”, “his or her(s)”, and “him or her”, respectively; ‘self (for himself/herself); and hu, hus, hum, humself (for s/he, his/hers, him/her, himself/herself).